also Sabaean, an inhabitant of the region of Arabia now known as Yemen, from Latin Sabaeus, from Greek Sabaios "the people of Saba" (which the ancients believed to be a city), from Arabic Saba', a name variously explained in Biblical literature. The tribes are mentioned obscurely in the Bible (Hebrew Sheba). In ancient times it was an important transit route to Europe for spices, perfumes, and precious stones from India.
type of heavy, single-edged sword, usually slightly curved, 1670s, from French sabre "heavy, curved sword" (17c.), alteration of sable (1630s), from German Sabel, Säbel, which probably is ultimately from Hungarian szablya "saber," literally "tool to cut with," from szabni "to cut." The Balto-Slavic words (Russian sablya, Polish szabla "sword, saber," Lithuanian šoblė) perhaps also are via German, but Italian sciabla seems to be directly from Hungarian. Saber-rattling "militarism" is attested from 1922. Saber-toothed cat (originally tiger) is attested from 1849, so named for the long upper canine teeth.
an adherent of a religious sect mentioned thrice in the Qu'ran (in which they are classified with Christians and Jews as monotheistic "true believers" tolerated by Muslims), 1610s, from Arabic, but a word of uncertain origin. As an adjective from 1748.
Perhaps the reference in the word is to a Gnostic sect akin to the later Mandæans (if the word derives, as some linguists think it does, from Arabic ch'bae "to baptize," Aramaic tzebha "he dipped, dyed"); but it has the appearance of derivation from the Semitic root of Hebrew tzabha "host, army" (see Sabaoth), and as the Sabians were thought to have been star-worshippers, the word was interpreted as referring to the "host of heaven." Related: Sabaism "star-worship" (Century Dictionary says Sabeanism is incorrect).
"pertaining to the Sabines," a people dwelling in the central Apennines of ancient Italy, late 14c., from Latin Sabinus (in poetic Latin often Sabellus), perhaps literally "of its own kind" and connected to root of Sanskrit sabha "gathering of village community," Russian sebr "neighbor, friend," Gothic sibja, Old High German sippa "blood-relationship, peace, alliance," Old English sibb "relationship; peace;" see sibling). The Roman colonists traditionally took their wives by force from the Sabines (Rape of the Sabine Women).
early 15c., "fur or pelt of the European sable" (Martes zibellina), from Old French sable (also martre sable "sable martin"), in reference to the carnivorous arctic mammal or its highly prized fur, borrowed in French from Germanic (compare Middle Dutch sabel, Middle Low German sabel, Middle High German zobel), ultimately from a Slavic source (compare Russian, Czech sobol, Polish soból, the name of the animal), "which itself is borrowed from an East-Asiatic language" [Klein], but Russian sources (such as Vasmer) find none of the proposed candidates satisfactory.
In reference to the animal itself in English from mid-15c. The earlier word for the fur was sabeline (c. 1200), from Old French sabeline and directly from Medieval Latin sabelinum.
early 14c., "black" as a heraldic color, commonly identified with sable (n.1) and in many dictionaries they form one entry, but the animal's fur is brown (though generally darker than the fur of other animals) and this might be a different word of unknown origin, or it might reflect a medieval custom (unattested) of dyeing sable black. As an adjective from late 14c. Emblematic of mourning or grief from late 14c.; by c. 1800 as "black" with reference to Africans and their descendants, often in mock dignity.
1907 (from 1903 as a French word in English), "malicious damaging or destruction of an employer's property by workmen," from French sabotage, from saboter "to sabotage, bungle," literally "walk noisily," from sabot "wooden shoe" (see sabaton).
In English, "malicious mischief" would appear to be the nearest explicit definition of "sabotage," which is so much more expressive as to be likely of adoption into all languages spoken by nations suffering from this new force in industry and morals. Sabotage has a flavor which is unmistakable even to persons knowing little slang and no French .... [Century Magazine, November 1910]
In French, and at first in English, the sense of "deliberately and maliciously destroying property" was in reference to labor disputes, but the oft-repeated story (as old as the record of the word in English) that the modern meaning derives from strikers' supposed tactic of throwing shoes into machinery is not supported by the etymology. Likely it was not meant as a literal image; the word was used in French in a variety of "bungling" senses, such as "to play a piece of music badly."
This, too, was the explanation given in some early usages:
SABOTAGE [chapter heading] The title we have prefixed seems to mean "scamping work." It is a device which, we are told, has been adopted by certain French workpeople as a substitute for striking. The workman, in other words, purposes to remain on and to do his work badly, so as to annoy his employer's customers and cause loss to his employer. [The Liberty Review, January 1907]
You may believe that sabotage is murder, and so forth, but it is not so at all. Sabotage means giving back to the bosses what they give to us. Sabotage consists in going slow with the process of production when the bosses go slow with the same process in regard to wages. [Arturo M. Giovannitti, quoted in report of the Sagamore Sociological Conference, June 1907]
The military extension to damage inflicted (especially clandestinely) to disrupt an enemy is from World War I.
"to ruin or disable deliberately and maliciously," 1912, from sabotage (n.). Related: Sabotaged; sabotaging.
"one who commits sabotage," 1912 (from 1909 as a French word in English), a borrowing of the French agent noun from saboter (see sabotage (n.)). The French fem. form is saboteuse.
"Jew born in Palestine" (or, after 1948, Israel), 1945, from Modern Hebrew sabrah, literally "prickly pear."